Friday, October 31, 2008

The weekly epistle

It has been a long week.

K gave me a cold which isn't so bad on its own, but combined with physical issues is knocking me flat. I woke up today and thought about how I was up quite late finishing work last night, and would have to work until 4 at the museum today, then go home and work another four hours, and then spend all weekend doing solo childcare while B works. Then I took a sick day from the online job. I made it through the day at the museum more or less and was so, so thankful to be able to come home and collapse with no more work in sight.

It helped that it was deader than a nuclear crater. We had three visitors the entire day, and two of them were members of the Friends. This would be because everyone else in the area was downtown at the parade for the Phillies along with over a million other people. It was sort of unreal, the every other part of the city was deserted. B's library had barely any people, his student workers had been in school with only 5 or 8 people in their classes. My boss said that her daughter's teachers were tacitly encouraging them to skip school to go to the parade, saying things like "If you're sick tomorrow, you can hand this work in on Monday."

I sent a very cute dinosaur to preschool this morning (didn't manage to get any pictures, but I'm pretty sure I'll be able to get her back into her costume again to get pictures). I was a little amazed that she's been so definite for the past month about her costume. She said dinosaur when I asked her a month ago, she still said dinosaur when I asked her two weeks later and suggested some other costumes, she was even steadfast in a choosing a dinosaur costume last week when I took her to the store*, passing up several princess outfits that she admired, but didn't even think about taking. I was perfectly fine with her being a dinosaur (heck, I downright encourage it), I've just heard too many horror stories about kids her age being all enthusiastic about a costume only to decide after it's been bought or made that they want to be something completely different, so I was trying to cover my bases by giving her ample opportunity to change her mind. But clearly my daughter isn't the fickle sort. This doesn't really surprise me.

I think she ate her weight in sugar today. She was exhausted coming home from daycare and already had a bag of candy from there, so we decided not to try going around to houses this year, a decision cemented when we discovered the bag of candy a nice neighbor left on our porch.** She was enthusiastic about handing out candy briefly, then fell down in a meltdown of sugar, exhaustion and excitement. Hopefully she's now sleeping off the diabetic coma.

Believe it or not, this is an improvement over last year when it was raining, K had a cold and she refused to put on her costume, even just for a few pictures. I'm sure next year she'll have more stamina and be able to make it through the day and still have energy to go out to some houses.

*I originally intended to make her costume by getting a hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants and modifying them, but for some reason, it was impossible to find green sweats in toddler sizes. And as it turns out, if you wait until the week before Halloween, there's still a pretty good selection of costumes and you can get a fairly nice one for less than $10. Something to keep in mind if your child wants to be something that can be easily found off the rack.

**I just opened the bag and wow, it's some primo stuff. Reese's Pieces and Junior Mints and not a cheapo brand like Smarties or Dum Dums in sight. Gosh, you rule, Mike from Next Door! And now I feel it is my duty as a good parent to prevent K from eating yet more sugar by making sure it's unavailable to her. It's my Duty.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Random coal mine

My goodness, I was unmotivated at work today. I was horribly sleepy* and didn't want to contemplate the gigantic stack of books that I needed to finish cataloging. The problem with children's books is that you can work and work and work to catalog all 200 billion of them, only to produce a stack approximately three inches high. It's very dispiriting, particularly when there's another foot-high stack of the anorexic little buggers lying in wait for you.

Fortunately, work obliged my malaise by being very quiet for the first three hours. I used the fact that I won't have a chance to take down the Halloween decorations and put up Thanksgiving decorations next weekend as an excuse to print out a bunch of decorations and sat down to spend the day cutting out autumn leaves and turkeys while reading an entertaining children's book (Thursday's Child by Noel Streatfeild). Then the Stamp Club arrived and life got busier.

We now have a stamp club that meets in the library once a month. They're... pretty much exactly what you would imagine what people who belong to a stamp club would be like. Their newsletter from last month started out, "Stamp collectors aren't just a bunch of nerds" and then went on to attempt to compare themselves to Indiana Jones. Ooookay then. If you say so, dearheart. Although I'm not buying the Indiana Jones comparison unless you're actually fighting your way through 500 miles of Amazon and ruthless cannibals to find stamps at the center of temples in the heart of the jungle, not stamp shows in your local high school auditorium.** Personally, if I were them I would just let my nerd flag fly.

*partly due to Physical Issues, partly due to poor K's dire rear which required a 5:30am diaper change after her smell entered our room six feet before she did and then nearly physically shoved us out of bed when she crawled in. Yeesh. I really wish she were 100% potty trained (I would classify her at 75% at the moment), but after the third horrific diaper last night, I was awfully glad it was all going in diapers rather than... well, anywhere other than the toilet is too appalling to contemplate.

**Although I suppose that is a fairly accurate description of high school.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's my birthday too, yeah

Well, technically by now, _yesterday_ was my birthday. But in any case, I'm another year older.

It was a lowkey day, courtesy of my job which yet again decided to shut the server down early for maintenance so I had to scramble to get my hours in before that happened, spiced up with the fact that the server went down last night so I had part of yesterday's hours to get in as well as today's. Thus, my birthday evening consisted of Chinese delivery brought into me by my husband as I sat in our bedroom most of the evening trying to get my work done (and mostly succeeding, until the server ground to a halt yet again and I gave it up as hopeless).

But I did get to go out to lunch with B and K made me a very nice birthday card with a remarkably recognizable drawing of a pumpkin (her artwork fascinates me sometimes - we've reached the age of representative art, but instead of the typical blobby stick figures, she draws things like dinosaurs, mountains and cats. It's a fascinating window into what goes on in her mind). I have a nice stack of new books to read and have gotten a couple exciting packages in the mail (a big thanks to my brother and the Champaign crowd for the Amazon package - your choices were perfect!). We're also going to New York City tomorrow.

Admittedly, it would be more of a treat if we weren't going to spend most of our time at LaGuardia Airport. My mother has been on a cruise going down the coast from Canada into New England and their final docking is at New York where they'll catch a plane back home. Since she has about 8 hours between docking and her flight leaving and it's only about 100 miles to New York, we're taking the opportunity to go spend a little time with her. My uncle is driving in from Connecticut as well, so it will be nice to see him. Hopefully we'll be able to get out of the airport, since LaGuardia isn't a terribly prepossessing place, but it will be good to see her either way.

And if tomorrow in New York isn't sufficiently festive, I have been promised a cake on Sunday. I may demand cake anyway, because when is it bad to have cake?

Friday, October 17, 2008

The ol' switcheroo

Several times tonight, Luna has come up on the couch and rubbed herself lovingly against my feet. I'm not allowed to move enough to reach down and pet her with my hand, mind you, but it's still active seeking out of affection, so I'll take it. I just wish she didn't feel the need to lovingly nibble my toes. Eep!


It all started last weekend with the computer. I decided it was finally time to upgrade our antivirus software (AVG free) on our older desktop, since the version it had was no longer being updated (we rarely use this computer). Only I was getting more and more frustrated with the fact that AVG has gone from generously offering up their free version to hiding it in the electronic version of a locked cabinet in a basement of a closed municipal building with a sign on it saying "Keep Out - Dangerous Tiger!"

In a fit of pique, I decided to try out Avast, another free antivirus software that is rated equally well with AVG in terms of protection. And I can't say there are huge advantages to Avast in terms of interface or useability (although it gets 1000 points for not having AVG's stupendously annoying linkscanner, which scans every link or your results when you do a web search). But I'm incredibly happy with the tone of their website, which puts the free version right there on their front page and says straight out that they're happy to provide it in the name of creating herd immunity on the Web to keep virus infections down. I like this attitude so much I installed it on my laptop as well.

Then I decided that while I was at it, I was very tired of Spybot and its refusal to let me turn it off until I explicitly want it, instead of letting it sit there hogging memory and hyperventilating and wringing its hands when I do such dangerous things as switch logins on the computer. So I switched to Ad-Aware, which has a service for sitting in my system tray and annoying me, but I have to explicitly turn it on. Much better. As an unforeseen bonus, my laptop is now running about three times faster with the new software.

Not content to stop with the computers, we then decided to kick Veriz0n out of our lives completely and called C0mcast to switch our phone to them. Months of conveniently "forgetting" to give us all of the discounts they had promised us, twelve layers of obfuscation when we tried to call to correct the bill and the last straw, our phone line going down twice in the past three months, giving us a total of 10 days without phone service which they still charged us for anyway, had built up to the point that we were ready to try a different evil for a while. Not to mention the fact that adding phone service would add only five dollars to what we're paying for Internet as opposed to the fifty we pay for phone from Veriz0n. And we can keep our phone number. It's something of a no-brainer, really.

As our final coup-de-grace, we spent Monday's holiday switching K's bedroom with the guest room. When we first moved in, I had been planning to do most of my sewing in the guest room, so I needed a room large enough to still have enough floor space to cut fabric and house the futon. So of the three bedrooms, we took the largest, the next largest became the guest room and we stuck K in the glorified closet. It wasn't a big deal, really. She does most of her playing in the rec room downstairs, and the main reason we got her a toddler bed was her room in the last house was also tiny. In fact, pretty much every bedroom she's ever had has been tiny now that I think about it. Then again, she's pretty small too.

However, I've wound up doing most of my sewing in the basement, while the guestroom became the Pit From Which No Junk Returns. It didn't seem particularly fair to K to have her in such a small room while a larger one went almost entirely unused except when we force open the door to chuck in more mail. An added bonus of rearranging has been that we've been forced to deal with a lot of the crap and finally finish the organizing we should have done when moved in ten months ago. Yes, I know you now stand in awe of our efficiency and timeliness.

It was definitely a good move. Bedtime with all three of us in her bedroom no longer requires a degree in Tetris to move around the room, and there can be more than three toys on the floor without all available floor space being covered. K loves anything new, so she's delighted both with the room and the cheapest bookcase Ikea offers that we got for toy storage.

I think that's probably enough changes for one week. Tune in next week when we decide to change our names, paint the cats green and convert to Hare Krishna.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


With the start of October, we were expecting B's library to start Saturday hours again after stopping for the summer. On the downside, his Saturday hours make my work schedule much more complicated and can create entire weekends where we're both working and we barely see each other. But on the plus side, they give B periodic days off during the week that now that we have regular daycare, we can use to do wild, radical things like go to movies. (GASP! I KNOW! Will our wild bohemian ways never cease?)

So we had our schedules all hammered out for October and we were ready. Then the mayor told all city agencies to find a way to cut money, and one way the library decided to do it was by cancelling Saturday hours for a bunch of libraries. Including B's. Then a week later, he a got a call saying his library was opening on Saturday after all. An hour later, another call cancelling them again. Then Wednesday, the mayor declared that he hadn't want any of the cost-saving measures implemented, he just wanted them proposed so he could sit and contemplate them. So once again, Saturday hours were back on.

B did in fact work today, so I'm cautiously assuming that this final change is going to last more than a few hours. Or maybe every Saturday the library will become Schrodinger's library, impossible to know if it's open or closed.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I can hear the bells

Last Sunday at work was unexpectedly exciting in all the ways you wouldn't want it to be. Normally when I arrive at work, the museum worker has already arrived and unlocked everything. Not so on Sunday. One of the first things I noticed is that for the first time, the place was locked up tighter than a drum, which meant I needed to go through and disarm the alarms, something I've never done on my own before. Particularly since the absolute first, impossible to miss thing I had noticed is that one of the basement alarms was going off before I even opened the door. Eep.

I couldn't see any obvious reason for it to be going off, like fire erupting from the roof or a gentleman cat burglar making his elegant way through the galleries, perhaps stopping in the library to steal an elegant book of classic poetry to contemplate while he made off with our stuffed alligator. What made the alarm quite puzzling is that I discovered that it wasn't even armed, which meant it shouldn't have been going off at all. Even more puzzling was when I turned it off, then it started again five minutes later, and then when I turned it off, the other basement alarm started going off. And then fifteen minutes later the upstairs alarm went off.

That's how I spent the next merry hour, turning off alarms whack-a-mole style while frantically calling the alarm company who didn't have a clue. They weren't even receiving alarms from us on their end. Eventually the museum worker got his car started and showed up, and then my boss showed up, and we figured out it was all because of a phone line that had gone down. It was nervewracking but ultimately no big deal.

But if I had to chose a way to spend my first hour spent alone in the museum ever? It would definitely not involve LOUD CLANGING ALARMS randomly going off every ten minutes.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My only comment on tonight's debate

At around 10:15, somewhere around the 15th "nukular" and the 45 millionth "You betcha," I handed my bottle of Coke to B and said, "Please take this. I'm about to throw it at the tv."

And I was 95 percent serious.

That woman gives me a migraine.

On the plus side, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked Joe Biden.